If you look at the CV of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, one of his job positions early in his career was being the general secretary of the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland.
It was a top position within the CIES, which has made terrific progress since being formed in 1995 in collaboration with FIFA and the University of Neuchâtel.
Designed to not only research ways of developing sport, CIES also provides a step for aspiring professionals to work in top positions in the ever-growing sports industry.
The Executive Programme in Sport Management diploma of CIES, supported by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, is now available at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. After two successful terms, they are now open for applications for September’s intake.
With modules ranging from law to communication to marketing and sponsorship in sport, the diploma is the stepping stone to launching careers in top executive roles.
“In terms of qualifications out there, this CIES Executive Programme in Sport Management is number one in sports management areas,” said Louis Kinziger, a former student and now CIES local coordinator in the UAE.
“If you want to become a manager in an organisation or administrative aspect of sport, this will help you reach your goal. If you want to work for an FA like the UAE FA, this diploma will help you and give you the required knowledge. This course represents a solid basis in the domain of sports management.”
So far, the course is popular around the world as well as Abu Dhabi. The 2015-2016 class in Abu Dhabi has 15 students with nationalities including Indian, French, Romanian, Qatari and Emirati, while lecturers are flown in to deliver the week-long modules, which are taught in six block weeks.
Not only are they highly experienced and possess vast knowledge of their subject but they can relate their own experiences of working in top sporting events.
Daniel Rupf were among those to teach this year, and he was Head of World Cup Events at FIFA between 1997 to 2003.
One of the biggest advantages is there is no age requirement to be a student. Only a strong command of English and a high-school qualification is needed while an interest for sport is crucial.
One current student is Grima Antoine. The 21-year-old admits the course has been challenging but hopes it pays dividends in his bid of working in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, should the city be selected.
“The diploma is very interesting as you can examine different areas of sports through the six different modules,” said the Frenchman.
“It teaches you a wide range of things including what decisions you have to make when it comes to different projects and how to analyse things from different perspectives.”
He added: “I’ve always wanted to work in sports. I can’t be an athlete because I don’t have the required level.
The background of sports is really interesting and being involved in sporting events is something I’ve always wanted to do. I want to be part of big events and this course will help me do that.”
For more information on how to apply, visit www.sorbonne.ae.
Saudi Arabia boss Bert van Marwijk has warned his already-qualified side still possess the hunger to get the result which could end the UAE’s World Cup 2018 ambitions.
The Green Falcons will make the third round of the AFC process no matter the result during tonight’s showdown in Abu Dhabi.
This is contrast to the hosts, who are chasing victory to guarantee progression.
Van Marwijk has awaken a fallen giant since he took charge last August and the man who guided the Netherlands to the World Cup final in 2010 is preaching professionalism.
“I think the UAE and Saudi Arabia are the best two teams in our pool,” said the ex-Netherlands and Borussia Dortmund supremo, whose nation currently top Group A. “Everybody knows we are already qualified for the last round.
“But we will not consider that, we want to play in a way that we reach our own level.
“UAE have to win. And we want also to win and we will play to win – we will not defend.”
LIKELY LINE-UP AND TEAM NEWS: The Green Falcons have no new injury problems or bans to report from Thursday’s 2-0 victory against Malaysia. Their numbers were reduced before this match, with Naif Hazazi, Salem Al Dawsari and Walid Bakshween kicked out for ill-discipline.
A less-than-impressive match saw the Saudis edge past whipping boys Malaysia on Thursday, 14-goal AFC top scorer Mohammad Al Sahlawi and midfielder Taisir Al Jassim registering in the second half.
This was in contrast to the UAE, who showed maturity to edge out third-placed Palestine by the same 2-0 scoreline.
Van Marwijk said: “We spoke about the UAE and saw the images of their games. They are very well prepared, we know all the players and their quality.
“We know who is injured, we know the players who are suspended and the way they play. But I never talk about players individually.”
As well as the poor performance against Malaysia, disciplinary problems have also dogged the visitors’ build-up.
Al Hilal winger Salem Al Dawsari and Al Ahli Jeddah defensive midfielder Walid Bakshween were kicked out after they reported late for duty, while Al Nassr hot shot Naif Hazazi went AWOL.
The next step in the AFC procedure will see the 12 qualified teams split into two groups of six, with the top two from each gaining guaranteed slots to the World Cup.
The UAE would be major rivals for the Saudis if they followed them there, but Van Marwijk dismissed the notion they are eager to deal an early knockout blow to their rivals.
“Motivation is to reach every time our own level,” the 63-year-old replied. “It doesn’t have influence against which opponent you play or the circumstances you are in, as you already have to reach your own level.
“We did it until now and I hope we will do again. We do not think about those things.”
The UAE’s stars will “fight until the end” to keep their dream of World Cup 2018 qualification alive,
according to boss Mahdi Ali.
A year’s worth of progress for the hosts’ ‘golden generation’ will be on the line against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night at a packed Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium as the second round comes to a dramatic close.
Success in the second of a must-win double header – the UAE beat Palestine 2-0 last Thursday – will see them through to the next stage.
But anything less will make for a nervous evening as they wait to see whether they finish as one of the four-best runners-up from the eight pools who advance.
LIKELY UAE LINE-UP AND TEAM NEWS: The UAE will hope lethal striker Ali Makbhout recovers from a hamstring issue. Veteran Ismail Matar is expected to be fit for a place on the bench. The Al Ahli trio of Ismail Al Hammadi, Majed Hassan and Habib Fardan are all suspended.
“We are always optimistic,” said Ali, 50. “In difficult times before, we gathered together strongly. I hope this time it will be the same. We will fight until the end.
“We have the biggest dream to qualify for the World Cup. For many players, this will be their last chance to play in a World Cup.
“We will not let this go very easily. We will fight until the end.”
Ali has guided his nation on an upward trajectory during the last four years. The Under-23s wowed at the London 2012 Olympics, before the majority of that group went on to lift the 2013 Gulf Cup and finish a remarkable third in last year’s Asian Cup.
A talented squad – headlined by Al Ain superstar Omar Abdulrahman – has made the UAE believe a second-ever entry into the globe’s premier event is possible. Al Ain centre-back Ismail Ahmed, 32, emphasised the value of this long-term understanding.
He said: “We are so used to working under Mahdi Ali. We will do our best and all of us know our roles.”
But the UAE will face an tough battle. They are currently on a seven-match losing streak against the Saudis, with a last triumph coming during the 2007 Gulf Cup – a tournament they went on to win.
The Green Falcons have also soared under the tutelage of coach Bert van Marwijk since his summer arrival, usurping the UAE in the FIFA rankings and looking like challengers to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 2006.
Ali said: “Saudi Arabia’s performances have improved very much. They play without any pressure, as they are guaranteed to reach the next stage regardless of this match.”
Despite the lingering fitness doubts about 29-goal forward Ali Makbhout, confidence should be high in the UAE camp following their consumate display against third-placed Palestine.
Ali said: “The pressure was more for the game against Palestine, as we had two games to think about. That was our first ticket to keep open our chances to qualify.”